Edgardo Bauza hasn’t even managed a single game in charge of Argentina, yet he’s already got one significant achievement under his belt.
The national team boss, who replaced Gerardo Martino after Argentina’s defeat in the Copa America final, helped convince Lionel Messi to reverse his decision to retire from international football. The only way for Bauza is down.
It remains to be seen whether Messi will play in Bauza’s first game in charge, though. The Albiceleste host Uruguay on Friday in their World Cup qualifier but the Barcelona star is suffering from a sore thigh and groin.
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Messi has travelled to Buenos Aires to join up with his teammates, which has left his club rather unhappy. In another case of club vs. country, it’s Barcelona who have come out second best.
According to Bauza, Messi defied Barcelona’s request for him to recover in Catalonia. His determination to represent his country makes you wonder just why he retired in the first place.
“The club recommended against him travelling but he said, ‘No, no, I am travelling,’” Bauza told Fox Argentina, per Sport.
Barcelona eventually allowed Messi to return to his home country and must be terrified that he could further aggravate his muscle problems.
“The evolution of the soreness will determine his availability to dispute the programmed games", an official Barca statement concluded.
World Cup qualification
Following the September 2 clash against Uruguay, Argentina travel north to take on Venezuela on September 7. Bauza will pick up where Martino left off, with Argentina in third place in South American qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The return of Messi is crucial to Argentina’s hopes of qualifying for the tournament in Russia. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner recently overtook Gabriel Batistuta as the country’s all-time leading scorer and a whole nation rejoiced when he confirmed his decision to come out of retirement.
“I love this country and this shirt too much,” Messi said in a statement. “I see there are a lot of problems with Argentine football and I don’t want to create another one. I don’t want to cause any harm, I have always meant the contrary, which is to help in all I can.
“We have to fix a lot of things in our Argentine football, but I’d rather do it by being in rather than criticizing from the outside. A lot went through my mind the day of the last final we lost and I seriously thought about quitting, but I love my country and this shirt too much.
‘I’d like to thank all those people who want me to continue playing for Argentina, I hope we can give them all something to cheer about soon.”